Ways To Connect With Your Teenager

Staying connected with your teen can look very different to connecting with a younger child – they have more independence and autonomy and are often experimenting with their sense of self.

As you may be aware, the connection we have with our teenage children can be just as important as the connections we have when they are younger – providing them with a safe base and unconditional love whilst they find out who they are and who they want to be in the world is no small thing!

Below, our clinical lead for Children and Young People’s services, Rebecca Kinnear, lists her top 5 ways to connect with your teen:

Actively listen;

Active listening can be difficult – especially if your teen is telling you something that is difficult to hear as a parent.
Active listening involves being non-judgemental, patient, empathetic and respectful. It means being quiet and not jumping in with the solutions or your opinions but holding space for what they have to say.
You may think that your teen is coming to you for an answer, but oftentimes teenagers tell us that they just want to be heard and validated.

Be curious;

Ask them open-ended gently curious questions to show that you are interested in what they have to say. By showing interest and wanting to know more, you show your teen that what they have to say is important to you, and interesting.

Think about the environment;

For some teens, the idea of sitting across the dining table and having a deep and meaningful conversation with intense eye contact can be daunting! Perhaps your teen finds it easier to talk in the car or when walking the dog together where eye contact is reduced and there are other things to focus your eyes on.

Create 1:1 time;

This can be particularly challenging if you have more than one child however children often share that they enjoy 1:1 time with their parent/s as they are able to talk about things that they perhaps wouldn’t if their sibling was present.
This could be just time in the car – making it fun and singing along to their songs, time after their sibling has gone to bed or whilst the sibling is at an activity – whenever you can find those pockets of time.

Show up authentically;

Being a parent can bring all the “shoulds” and “musts” such as telling yourself “I should always have the answer” or “I must fix their problems for them”.
It can be powerful to model how we manage our own emotions as adults – for example, admitting when we have acted in the heat of the moment and apologising can help you to connect with your teen by showing them respect, authenticity and modelling emotional regulation.

The key thing to remember is that teenagers may need you to persevere and be consistent, showing them that you will be there, no matter what.

This can be tiring as a parent, so remember to look after yourself too!

If you would like to find out more about the support we can offer please get in touch by emailing york@theretreatclinics.org.uk or manchester@theretreatclinics.org.uk or call on 0161 445 2099 or 01904 412551.